Although no official written documents remain, credible accounts indicate that Leonardo Cerebelli was born in 1830 in
Flatbush community to grocers Enzo and Aurora Cerebelli. Nevertheless, Cerebelli was dogged for much
of his life by rumors he was truly the son of notorious Cosa Nostra mafioso Nunzo
“Il Capo” Tosto, fearsome patron of a post-feudal Sicilian cosca, or crime family. Il
Capo had reputedly sired dozens of illegitimate children and sent them abroad
to appease his domineering spouse.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that Leonardo was spirited out of Sicily as an infant, hidden in a shipment of
castelvetrano olives bound for New
Clever and industrious, young Leonardo excelled in his schoolwork but chafed at his duties in the family business. This fractious state of affairs was typified by one of Leonardo’s earliest experiments, an inquiry into chaos theory in which the eight-year-old prodigy dropped hundreds of fragile inventory items to the floor and took detailed notes. His father was horrified, as was his instructor, who labelled Leonardo’s pioneering work “unadulterated rubbish.” Leonardo’s wry humor began to emerge as he coined derogatory Latin nicknames for regular customers, until his sly linguistic indiscretions were detected by one of his father’s business associates, after which time Leonardo took up Ancient Greek.